Seven-run fifth inning helps Oceanside baseball sail through to Nassau AA semifinals
A baseball postseason can be unforgiving and that’s why they tend to belong not to the teams with the best records, but to the teams that are playing the best. Oceanside is a team that is rolling and Port Washington was one in a drought. Those things were magnified when they met in a Nassau Class AA Quarterfinal Series.
Oceanside completed a two-game sweep of the Vikings on Wednesday with a 10-2 thumping at Port Washington to complete a sweep in the Best-of-3 series. The fourth-seeded Sailors (16-6) are now on a five-game winning streak as they advance to a semifinal series against No. 1 Massapequa with Game 1 scheduled for Tuesday. In the quarterfinal, they outscored Port Washington (15-7) by an aggregate 20-2.
“We were very young last season as we played a lot of freshmen and sophomores,” Oceanside coach Mike Postilio said. “They are still young as juniors and sophomores, but they have experience that showed up.”
The Sailors pounded out 14 hits on Wednesday and broke open a competitive game by sending 13 batters to the plate in a seven-run fifth inning. Justin Alvarez had the biggest hit, a two-run homer to right field, and Luke Villella had a two-run single in the rally.
“It was a fastball on the outside of the plate,” Alvarez said of the home run. “I was able to get my hands to the ball a lot today and that one just connected.”
Alvarez hit a home run to the same spot as he did during a win in a series between the two teams during the final week of the regular season. He pointed to right field, where there is a high fence 251 feet away and said “this field has been good to me this season.”
“We have a team that hits up and down,” Villella said. “This series was no fluke.”
Starting pitcher Patrick Pallentino threw six innings of two-run ball at the Vikings, allowing just four hits, for the win. “First-pitch strikes, that was the key,” he said. “Once I got ahead, I could throw anything and I got a lot of soft contact.”
Port Washington was nearly unrecognizable in the series. The Vikings outscored opponents 155-73 in the regular season. In dropping their final four games of the season to Oceanside – two in the regular season and two in the playoffs – they scored only four runs. They also committed an uncharacteristic five errors on Wednesday.
“We picked the wrong time to go cold,” Port Washington coach Matt Holzer said. “We played very well for four-to-six weeks and then the wheels came off. I’ve never seen anything like it before. Maybe you have a player or two get cold, but we had like eight.”
Oceanside actually opened the season with a 6-4 non-conference win over Massapequa, which enters the semifinals having won 14 of 15.
“Massapequa is an excellent team, but so are we when we hit,” Postilio sad. “If we hit, that will be a very competitive series.”